Finals and last minute exploring!

Kia Ora!

When I first got my finals schedule I thought there was no way it was accurate. Finals at Otago last an entire month! Most people have 3-4 finals within that time frame and have a decent amount of time in between. This allows for lots of last-minute traveling and hanging out with friends. I’ve fit in a trip to Milford Sound, another trip to the Catlins, and lots of beach days taking advantage of the warmth before I head home to another winter.

My favorite paper this semester was Pacific Health. We learned about Pacific cultures and customs and the history of their migration to New Zealand. The last lecture for this paper was bittersweet saying goodbye to the lecturers that I’ve come to know enjoy. We had a talanoa, a talk, about what we enjoyed through the paper and what we would recommend for next semester, we ate Sapa sui, a traditional Pacific meal, and created a facebook page for the class to stay in touch for the future.

class of students in the Pacific Health paper course
Pacific Health class members and lecturers!

Finals at Otago are very different than at Linfield! My first final was Environmental History of New Zealand, consisting of two essay questions. There was one overall question relating to the entire course objectives and the other question was more specific about one of the main learning outcomes. My exam started at 2:30 pm, so everyone was expected to show up at 2. At 2:15 the proctors opened the door and gave you a number indicating where you must sit. All bags had to be left at the front of the room and you weren’t allowed to wear a watch, have any electronics on you, or have anything at your place other than your student ID and two pencils. The front page of the exam had a place to bubble in your student ID and write your name and at 2:30 you were allowed to begin with two hours to complete the exam. No one could leave within the first hour and no one could leave within the last 15 minutes. After the 2 hours, the proctors picked up your exam, checked your student ID and were very strict about no talking. The atmosphere for the exams is much more stressful and formal than exams at Linfield, adding, I believe, more pressure on the situation.

My second exam was Maori Society and a different format than my first one. This exam had 40 multiple-choice questions about lecture content and then 30 multiple-choice questions about two provided readings. The first 40 questions were only .25 points each and the other questions were worth 1 point each. The readings were also given to us before the exam so we could read and interpret them. My final exam is a combination of the first two, consisting of multiple-choice questions and two essays. All of the exams are also worth a lot of your final grade. My first one was worth 60%, the second 40%, and my last 50%. This made me very stressed considering I don’t always test well and the exam score could make or break my final overall grade in the paper.

On a more exciting note, I finally got to see Milford Sound! We had tried to do a cruise on the sound before but it got canceled due to weather, and many other people also had their cruises canceled due to weather. We went to Te Anau the night before, stayed in a hostel, and left early the next morning for our 12 o’clock cruise. The cruise we did was 2 and a half hours long and described as the best one there is. It definitely didn’t disappoint! The weather wasn’t the best that day so there weren’t too many people on the boat making it more comfortable to move around and enjoy the scenery. As we were leaving the harbor a couple of dolphins came up and swam next to us for about 30 minutes. This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen while being here! The tour guide said there were one male and two females and they usually don’t come into the harbor as they did. They were much larger than I was expecting and I loved watching them play in the water doing jumps and just gliding along. They eventually swam off and I finally took in the scenery around me. I felt so tiny on the boat surrounded by huge snow-capped mountains on both sides of the sound that looked never-ending with the fog. Pictures don’t do justice to how big the mountains actually were! The cruise went along both edges of the sound going right up to the waterfalls. The first waterfall we stopped at was one of the “smaller” ones and the boat went right under it! We stayed on the upper level and got a little wet from the mist, but the people on the lower level got soaked. They also put out cups that got filled from the waterfall and we got to drink the water! It was some of the most refreshing water I’ve had! We then went to the end of the sound and the came back along the other edge. On this side, we saw baby seals and went under the biggest waterfall. We stayed on the upper edge again but we all got soaking wet! I wore jeans that got soaked through and all of our hair was dripping wet. It was so worth it though, it was so much fun! After the cruise, we stopped at Te Anau for dinner and dessert and then made our way back to Dunedin.

Milford Sound surrounded by mountains
Milford Sound from the Dock
Milford Sound surrounded by mountains
View from the front of the boat
Milford Sound and mountains with fog
The mountains were huge and the fog added to the effect!

Another trip I’ve gotten in is to the Catlins with my flatmates. We left in the morning and made our way to Nugget Point. We hiked up the hill overlooking the lighthouse and took in the views. After Nugget Point we stopped at a cafe to eat lunch where I got fish and chips. Our next stop was Purakaunui Falls and after that, we went back to Matai and Horseshoe falls. During the car ride, we played games and listened to good music.

grassy slopes of Nugget Point surrounded by the ocean
Nugget Point

Another quick trip was to Queenstown. Victoria and I boarded the bus, which only cost 20 USD, at 8 am and got to Queenstown at 1 o’clock. We ate the best Mexican food I’ve had in New Zealand and then walked around looking for souvenirs and taking in the scenery. We also made a stop at Patagonia Ice Cream since the line wasn’t as long as it usually is. The next day we studied in our hostel and at a Cafe then boarded the bus back to Dunedin at 4 pm.

I really love Dunedin itself so I’ve also spent lots of time just walking around and trying to take it all in before I leave. One of the things I really enjoyed was renting bikes and riding around the peninsula. It cost 30 NZD for 4 hours, so we went at sunset and enjoyed the beauty of the city.

Otago Peninsula surrounded by water with mountains on the horizon
Bike riding the Otago Peninsula
St. Clair beach looking out over the ocean with an ice cream cone in hand.
Patti’s and Cream ice cream at St. Clair!

St. Clair Beach is the closest beach to Dunedin so we’ve spent lots of time there the past couple days with the nice weather. Some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had is from Patti’s and Cream ice cream truck! Their truck is usually at St. Clair and the best part of going to the beach. We also celebrated a couple of early birthdays at the beach the other night with all of our friends. Many of them are leaving soon so it was probably one of the last things we’ll get to do together. We brought burgers from ReBurger and ate it on the beach while watching the sunset, playing games, and hanging out with fun people!

Sunset at St. Clair over the ocean with an orange sky
Sunset at St. Clair
Friends at the beach
Celebrating early birthdays at the beach!